Thursday, July 12, 2012

Puttin' the Blog in Balrog: My Own Private Middle Earth

A long, long time (11 years!) ago, on a blog far, far away, I wrote about my experience of making an 80 mile round trip to a movie theater where The Fellowship of the Ring was playing. In the course of those musings, I thought a lot about how I had imagined Middle Earth to have looked and how that contrasted with what Peter Jackson and Weta workshop came up with.

I first read The Hobbit when I was seven years old. I tackled The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was nine, but didn't finish; it wasn't until I was ten that I made the trip all the way with Frodo to Mount  Doom and back. This means that at the time, my world was still pretty small, but it offered lots of locales that did just fine for me in picturing Middle Earth, though I find I mostly have stuff for locations in The Fellowship of the Ring.

The Shire - downtown Saratoga, WY

The Old Forest - Aspen Alley near Encampment, WY

Old Man Willow and the Withywindle  - The western bank of the North Platte River, Saratoga, WY
(This was my backyard when I lived in Saratoga for a few years as an adult)

Tom Bombadil's Front Yard - My dad's rock garden, Saratoga, WY
(really just an excuse to show you all the only known specimen of the Stumpalope again)

Tom Bombadil's house - CCC shelter, Veterans Island, Saratoga, WY

The Prancing Pony - the Hotel Wolf, Saratoga, WY

The Barrow Downs - Baggot Rocks, just north of Encampment, WY

Weathertop/Amon  Syl - Libby Flats Observation Point, Snowy Range, WY

Rivendell - Medicine Bow Lodge, Snowy Range, WY
(There's a creek that runs by it but no, no Bruinen-type rivers up there in the mountains)

Rivendell/View from Elrond's Back Deck - Lake Marie spillway into French Creek, Snowy Range, WY

Caradhras - Medicine Bow Peak, Snowy Range, WY
(It's a hell of a hike, but there is a trail that goes to the top of that sucker, 
which tops off at just above 12,000 feet!)

The Gate To Moria - Bellamy Lake, Snowy Range, WY
(The Snowy Range makes good Misty Mountains, no?)

The Carrock - Castle Rock, Green River, WY
(Yeah, from The Hobbit. So is the next one. Heh.)

Erebor, aka The Lonely Mountain - Devil's Tower National Monument, northeastern WY
(No brainer, this one!)
Lothlorien - Vedauwoo and environs, between Cheyenne and Laramie, WY
(I couldn't imagine deciduous trees bigger than these cottonwoods!)

Argonath - The North Platte River below Sheeprock near Saratoga, WY

Fangorn (getting logged by Saruman) - Brush Creek Campground, Snowy Range, WY

Rohan - Red Desert, WY

Helm's Deep - Seminole Dam - Rawlins/Alcova, WY
(Don't ask me why I always pictured a dam; I guess it was just the biggest manmade structure I'd yet seen)

Ithilien - A stone cabin near Kemmerer, WY

Osgiliath - Ames Monument - northeast of Laramie, WY

The Dead Marshes - Boiling mud, Yellowstone Natonal Park, WY

The Gate to Mordor - Devil's Gate, central Wyoming, southwest of Casper, WY

The Stairs of Cirith Ungol - Hell's Half Acre, southwest of Casper, WY
(This area served as the alien planet for the film Starship Troopers)

Barad-Dur - Denver, CO on a smoggy day - YUCK

And what about you, dear readers and fellow #PtBiB participants? Did anyone else populate the landscape of Middle Earth with familiar childhood sights like I did?


  1. The Red desert has some very LOTR places. Adobe Town and the Jack Morrow Hills are especially rich. Then there is Crow Heart Butte east of Riverton. I don't know how it fits into the books, but it must, somehow.

    We have some sleeping dragons a bit southwest of Casper. I have tried and tried to photograph them so to show on paper what is very evident to the living eye, but to no avail. When I do succeed, you'll be among the first to know.

    1. I appreciate that, dear Walter! I always thought I might spy one in Hell's Half Acre somewhere when I was wee, but they proved too elusive for little ol' me!

  2. Man, I tried to comment on this last night, but for some reason my blogger account WON'T STAY LOGGED IN!

    Anyway, I think this is glorious, the way you pictured it.

    I grew up in NW Montana and Idaho, so I associated everything with the Cabinets (the mountain range I lived under) and Lake Pend Orielle:

    1. Those are fabulous and totally appropriate! I wonder if there weren't lots of young readers in the Rocky Mtn region for whom Middle Earth looks a lot like these 8)

  3. No sites where I grew up, beautiful country up there!

    1. Come visit! I'm sure we can dig up a Ring to destroy!

  4. I didn't have mountains anywhere near where I grew up, though I did spend a lot of time in the Canadian Shield, and the rocky, forested terrain, I think, has always landscaped my imagining of the flight from Bree, and also when the fellowship leaves Lothlorien.
    Many years later, while touring glaciers in Iceland, such as Myrdalsjökull, with a fellow Tolkien fan, as it happened, we both thought the wretched, jagged landscape of ice was straight out of the Silmarillion: "The Grinding Ice!" we both said, thinking of the Elves' torturous journe y to Middle-earth.

    1. Sigh. There you go again with your Iceland-flaunting. Le sigh. I've seen photos of what you're talking about though, and YES The Grinding Ice!!!!

  5. And as a total nerd, I tried to read LOTR in Icelandic. Got through FOTR, but it took me so long I realized I should move back to the literature I was in the country to study :) Still interesting to compare the translation to the original -- it was very good.


Sorry about the CAPTCHA, guys, but without it I was getting 4-5 comment spams an hour.